ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER:    ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
DAVID L. PIPPEN    STEVE CARTER    
ATTORNEY AT LAW     ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
Indianapolis, IN    Indianapolis, IN
    
     JOEL SCHIFF
    DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
    Indianapolis, IN
    

_____________________________________________________________________

    IN THE INDIANA TAX COURT _____________________________________________________________________

SHREVE/NOBIS HOLDINGS, LLC,                                               )
                                                                               )
    Petitioner,                                                                )
                                                                               )
    v.                                                                         )   Cause No. 49T10-9812-TA-212
                                                                               )
DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL                                                            )
GOVERNMENT FINANCE,
                                                           
                                                 
                                                                      
                                      See footnote 
                          
        )
                )
    Respondent.            )    
_____________________________________________________________________

ON APPEAL FROM TWO FINAL DETERMINATIONS OF
THE STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS

NOT FOR PUBLICATION
March 7, 2003

FISHER, J.

    Shreve/Nobis Holdings LLC (Shreve) appeals two final determinations of the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) valuing its Morgan County property for the 1995 general reassessment. The sole issue for the Court to decide is whether the State Board erred in valuing two of Shreve’s improvements under the General Commercial Industrial (GCI) cost schedule, as opposed to the General Commercial Kit (GCK) cost schedule. See footnote


FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

    Shreve owns real property in Martinsville, Indiana. As it relates to this appeal, there are six buildings on the property that are rented to the public for use as storage-units/mini-warehouses. Each building has metal-siding and garage-type overhead doors and entrance doors.
    For the 1995 general reassessment, four of Shreve’s buildings were classified as “kit buildings” and assessed pursuant to the GCK cost schedule. The other two buildings, however, were classified as special purpose mini-warehouses and assessed pursuant to the GCI cost schedule.
    Shreve timely appealed its assessment, first with the Morgan County Board of Review and then with the State Board. Throughout the administrative process, Shreve argued that because all six of its buildings were the same, the two assessed under the GCI schedule should be assessed under the GCK schedule.
    On December 1, 1998, the State Board issued its final determination in which it denied Shreve’s claim. Shreve subsequently filed an original tax appeal on December 30, 1998. The Court did not conduct a trial, as both parties requested to have the matter resolved based on the evidence stipulated into the record as well as on their briefs. The Court heard oral argument on June 15, 2000. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.
STANDARD OF REVIEW

    This Court accords great deference to the State Board when it acts within the scope of its authority. Wetzel Enters., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 694 N.E.2d 1259, 1261 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). Accordingly, the Court will reverse a State Board final determination only if it is unsupported by substantial evidence, constitutes an abuse of discretion, exceeds statutory authority, or is arbitrary and capricious. Id.
    A taxpayer who challenges the propriety of a State Board final determination bears the burden of demonstrating its invalidity. Clark v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 694 N.E.2d 1230, 1233 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). To do so, the taxpayer must present a prima facie case, i.e., a case in which the evidence is “sufficient to establish a given fact and which if not contradicted will remain sufficient.” GTE North Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 634 N.E.2d 882, 887 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1994) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). To establish a prima facie case, the taxpayer must offer probative evidence concerning the alleged assessment error. Miller Structures, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 748 N.E.2d 943, 947 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). Where the taxpayer has failed to provide the State Board with probative evidence supporting its position on the alleged assessment error, the State Board’s duty to support its final determination with substantial evidence is not triggered. Whitley Prods., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1119-20 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998), review denied.
DISCUSSION

Shreve contends that the State Board erred in valuing two of its improvements under the GCI cost schedules. In particular, Shreve argues that despite the fact that all six buildings are “exactly the same,” the State Board provided no substantial evidence whatsoever to support its assessment of the two buildings under the GCI schedule (as opposed to the GCK schedule used on the other four). The Court, however, need not discuss whether the State Board’s decision is supported by substantial evidence, because Shreve points to no probative evidence of record indicating that the two structures are kit buildings.
Starting in 1995, the State Board’s regulations included a cost schedule for certain light, pre-engineered buildings, i.e., kit buildings. See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-11-6 (Schedule A4). The pricing for kit buildings under the GCK schedule is reflective of the economical quality and low cost of materials used in these structures. See footnote Miller Structures, 748 N.E.2d at 949.
The key elements used to identify a kit building are, simply, the types of interior column and roof beam support used in the building. Componx, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 683 N.E.2d 1372, 1374 (Ind. Tax 1997). Kit building interior columns and roof beam supports may include cold form cee channel supports, tapered columns, H-columns, and steel pole or post columns. Miller Structures, 748 N.E.2d at 950. Consequently, “it should not be difficult for taxpayers to identify those characteristics in an improvement alleged to [be a kit building].” Whitley Prods., 704 N.E.2d at 1121. Indeed, a taxpayer meets its burden with regard to a kit building where the taxpayer shows that its improvement’s type of column and roof beam support meet the criteria for a kit building. See Componx, 683 N.E.2d at 1374.
    In presenting its case to the State Board, Shreve’s tax representative, Denise Praul of True Tax Management, testified:
Several of the buildings were priced off of GCK and then there were a couple of them that were not priced off GCK –they were priced off of GCI, I believe, as mini-warehouses. All [six] of these buildings on this property are what we would consider kit buildings.

(Audio Tape of Administrative Hearing.) In conjunction with her testimony, Ms. Praul submitted a photocopy of the layout of the property. (Pet’r Ex. 1.) None of this evidence, however, indicates what types of interior columns and roof supports are used in the buildings at issue. Likewise, it does not show how the two buildings are exactly the same as the other four. The testimonial statement that “we consider the buildings to be kit buildings” is nothing more than a conclusion, and conclusory statements do not qualify as probative evidence. Whitley Prods., 704 N.E.2d at 1119. Because Shreve has failed to provide the State Board with probative evidence to support its position that the two buildings are kit buildings, the State Board’s duty to support its final determination with substantial evidence is not triggered. See id. at 1119-1120.
CONCLUSION

For the aforementioned reasons, the State Board’s final determination is AFFIRMED.


Footnote: The State Board of Tax Commissioners (“State Board”) was originally the Respondent in this appeal. However, the legislature abolished the State Board as of December 31, 2001. 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 119(b)(2). Effective January 1, 2002, the legislature created the Department of Local Government Finance (“DLGF”), see Indiana Code § 6-1.1-30-1.1 (West Supp. 2001)(eff. 1-1-02); 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 66, and the Indiana Board of Tax Review (“Indiana Board”). Ind. Code § 6-1.5-1-3 (West Supp. 2001)(eff. 1-1-02); 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 95. Pursuant to Indiana Code § 6-1.5-5-8, the DLGF is substituted for the State Board in appeals from final determinations of the State Board that were issued before January 1, 2002. Ind. Code § 6-1.5-5-8 (West Supp. 2001)(eff. 1-1-02); 198 Ind. Acts 2001, § 95. Nevertheless, the law in effect prior to January 1, 2002 applies to these appeals. Id. See also 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 117. Although the DLGF has been substituted as the Respondent, this Court will still reference the State Board throughout this opinion.

Footnote: Shreve also argues that its assessment should be voided because portions of Indiana’s regulations for taxing tangible property have been declared unconstitutional. Indeed, in 1998, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed this Court’s determination that “the existing cost schedules . . . violate the Property Taxation Clause of the Indiana Constitution.” State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs v. Town of St. John, 702 N.E.2d 1034, 1043 (Ind. 1998). That same year, however, this Court declared that “[r]eal property must still be assessed, and, until the new regulations are in place, must be assessed under the present system.” Whitley Prods., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1121 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998), review denied; see also Town of St. John v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 729 N.E.2d 242, 246 & 251 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2000) (ordering real property in Indiana to be reassessed under constitutional regulations as of March 1, 2002 and providing that until then, “real property tax assessments shall be made in accordance with the current system”). The Court, therefore, will not analyze Shreve’s state constitutional claim in this opinion.
    Shreve also contends that because Indiana’s system of taxing tangible property is not “based upon objectively verifiable data,” (see Pet’r Br. and Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law at 8-9), its due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are violated. This Court has in the past rejected legal arguments analogous to Shreve’s. See Town of St. John v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 690 N.E.2d 370, 388–97 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1997), rev’d in part on other grounds by 702 N.E.2d 1034 (Ind. 1998). Even if Shreve’s federal constitutional claims had merit, real property must still be assessed, and, until the new regulations are in place, must be assessed under the present system. See Whitley Prods., 704 N.E.2d at 1121. The Court, therefore, will not analyze Shreve’s federal constitutional claim in this opinion either.

Footnote: “[K]it buildings are made of light weight and inexpensive materials and are fabricated at central manufacturing facilities and shipped to the construction site ready for fast and efficient assembly.” Miller Structures, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 748 N.E.2d 943, 949 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).